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Sleeping Bags and The Military

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Recently I attended the SHOT show. The SHOT show is all about the shooting sports industry. About 5 or 6 years ago the emphasis of the show changed from the civilian market to the tactical market; i.e. the military and police agencies. One of the observations I made was the number of companies exhibiting sleeping bags. What I saw were sleeping bags that had no chance of performing at the temperatures noted on the bags. Many were made over seas and some were made domestically. The domestic made bags were made in Puerto Rico (PR) in factories that only do contract sewing for the government. Being sewing operations they have the capability of making sleeping bags; i.e. copying what others have made. It matters not to them if what others have made works or not. In essence these P.R factories are making for our military non-performing sleeping bags.

They are following the lead of the Natick crowd who has demonstrated for over 40 years that they do not know what it takes to make a sleeping bag that will actually perform at a given temperature. They rely on the information they glean from a copper manikin. I have met some dumb people in my life time as I imagine everyone has, but I have yet to understand why these people chose to listen to a copper manikin, just dumb. I wonder if they sit around with the copper manikin and discuss his changes in temperature as the test develops. Do they at Natick ever get their copper manikin together with the copper manikin at Kansas State Universities Environmental Laboratory (KSUEL) for consultation? The silence would be deafening, don’t you think.

The point being that they just refuse to field test with humans the bags that they get because they already know from past experience these bags will not perform. How do I know they won’t perform, easy, I am constantly getting orders from members of the military, humans choosing to replace the non-functioning bags or bag systems that they have been issued. Why would they do this if the copper manikin told the laboratory people that the bag works at what ever temperature they were looking for! Simply put they do not work.

Natick crowd chooses not to field test their sleeping bags

Since the Natick crowd chooses not to field test their sleeping bags and only rely on the copper manikin testing they are therefore perpetually doomed to failure. The companies that are now making exact copies of the Natick engineered bag(s) become complicit in perpetuating the supply of under performing bags for our soldiers. What I have discovered over the years is that most of the companies that make the sleeping bags, people who work at Natick or otherwise sell these sleeping bags to the military are people who were prior service. When confronted with the question; would you like to get issued poor performing products when you were on active duty would you appreciate it? They simply put do not respond. I have told them they should be ashamed of themselves, but they have no shame, so my comment falls on deaf ears.

I have over the years offered to share my knowledge of insulation and manufacturing methods with Natick and several of the contract manufacturing companies all to no avail. Natick just refuses to accept my insulation as well as my manufacturing methodology so those who want to sell the military follow their directive so to speak. The people who run these companies or have the responsibility of the sleeping bag division as far as I can tell from those I do know as well as those I do not know have absolutely no interest in learning about sleeping bags. The primary component of a sleeping bag is obviously the insulation used. In total these people have no knowledge of insulation. The reason they chose not to learn is simple, if they did learn they would then oppose the directives so to speak of the Natick crowd. And if they did learn as is the case with one of the P.R. factories they will not say a word to the Natick crowd. I know this for fact. At one time I worked with one of these factories and taught them to make Wiggy’s bags. They submitted the bags they made using Lamilite to the KSUEL and the results were far superior to the quilted version of the bags. This was for a bid and they were shot down even though they were the low bidder because the Natick crowd said the insulation would migrate when laundered. When I was told why their bags were rejected, that it was a migration problem I said impossible as I had been making bags in this manner for over 30 years at the time. I still make the Wiggy’s bags the same way and they still out perform all other bags made. They chose to compromise their intelligence just to satisfy the Natick crowd. Since that experience they have chosen to make bags in a construction method that incorporates quilting because that is what the Natick crowd insists upon getting. The fact that they are failures in the field and have been since 1996 makes no difference to either party.

Also while at the SHOT show I noted several companies that have Government Service Agency (GSA) contracts offer some bags that are not made in the USA. Having examined these foreign made bags I can assure you they have a zero chance of performing. None of these companies uses the Climashield continuous filament fiber that I incorporate as the core of Lamilite. So they are starting out with a poor quality form of insulating medium which is chopped staple fiber. I have given up trying to educate the people who work for these companies to include the owners. Right or wrong and in the case of sleeping bags wrong these sellers will take the course of least resistance.

Galileo is remembered as one of the fathers of modern science. He rejected subordinating himself to the authority of the church in his day. He suffered for it, so be it. Knowledge, factual information cannot be suppressed indefinitely, I am having my day.


Some people have gall! In 1960 polyester fiberfill; chopped polyester fiberfill started to be used by outerwear and sleeping bag manufacturers as insulation. In 1964 Celanese Corporation developed continuous filament fiberfill and in 1968 they started to sell it to outerwear and sleeping bag manufacturers; they trade named their new fiberfill product Polar Guard. In 1984 Albany International (AI) in conjunction with U.S. Army Natick Research, Development and Engineering Center published a report titled “Development of a synthetic alternative to down”. Since polyester fiber was being used as an insulating medium from1960 we already had a synthetic alternative. When Celanese started selling Polar Guard we no longer had a simple alternative to down we had a far superior product that made down obsolete. Albany International a few years later started marketing their “new (?)” synthetic material as a marked improvement over what already existed. They trade named their product PrimaLoft. It was not only not an improvement but not as good as what was already being made by garneting companies serving the outerwear industry let alone Polar Guard. Albany International likes 3-M before them with their Thinsulate Lite Loft thought they had the best insulating medium ever produced. In both cases these products are basically throw backs to the original chopped staple batting that was sold starting in 1960. However, both companies have very deep pockets so they advertised extensively and as will happen create a stir with the public so a manufacturer here and there bought into their programs. After 30 plus years not one company that I know of uses Thinsulate Lite Loft in sleeping bags and very few use it in outerwear to the best of my knowledge. I do see their ads each year in the Outdoor Retailer publication given out at the OR Shows.

I recently read in a new issue of the OR publication that AI has a new version of their original version of a continuous filament fiberfill product. Their first foray into the continuous filament fiberfill market was called PrimaLoft Infinity. According to their web site it is “the new performance standard in continuous filament insulation”. This product was introduced to the market place about two years ago. Aside from Eastern Mountain Sports the retail chain having some bags made with this fiberfill product in China I believe none of the other manufacturers of sleeping bags are utilizing it. Now I read on their web site of their even newer continuous filament fiberfill product called PrimaLoft SYNERGY. They state the product “is an advanced multi-denier continuous filament insulation engineered for superior warmth, softness and loft. PrimaLoft SYNERGY is constructed of both fine denier and ultra fine denier continuous filament fibers”. Many years ago when 3-M entered the insulation for jackets market they were offering a melt blown polyolefin fiber that is less than one denier thick and suggested since in broke up air molecules smaller that polyester fiber that was thicker it worked better as an insulation medium. DuPont was spurned on to do research of their own and came to the conclusion going thinner than 2.75 denier thicknesses were unnecessary. What was discovered is that when you go thinner the resilience of the fiber is lost. That means when the bag was stuffed in stuff sack the loft of the bag was almost immediately compromised; it diminished. They will ultimately have the same result.

The method they have employed in making their batting we tried about 1970. It was to “shoot” the fiber straight into the oven rather than cross lapping it. We had no problem doing it; however, we chose not to do any further experimentation because the product has no purpose. The end result is the only way Polar Guard was ever made and the way Climashield is made is via the cross lap method. This method has never failed. Climashield also experimented with blending a finer denier fiber with their normal denier and found there was zero benefit.

Continuous Filament Fiberfill

Having had the opportunity to work for the first company to make continuous filament fiberfill I have seen it in all of its states and matter of factly know that I know more about it than even the people who make it and supply it to me. When I read that 3-M or now AI claims on their web site to be “the premier manufacturer of performance insulation for outerwear and a leader in synthetic insulation research and innovation” I am appalled by their gall. Wiggy’s is easily one of the largest users of continuous filament fiberfill in the world and you would think the sales people of AI would make effort to contact me to use their product, but they haven’t and have no intentions of ever contacting me. The reason is easy to understand I would tell them if they were to contact me to do something else with their time instead of peddling a non performing product, which is what they are in fact doing. That is my educated opinion.

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